Bits ‘n’ Pieces: Nov. 25, 2020

By Lorraine H. Marie
Reader Columnist

East, west or beyond, sooner or later events elsewhere may have a local impact. A recent sampling:

The U.S. is experiencing a “stress test” regarding the recent election process, with incumbent President Donald Trump attempting to change the vote that shows President-elect Joe Biden leading by more than 5 million more votes. 

According to numerous news sources Trump is supported in his effort by people like Roger Stone, Rudy Giuliani, Newt Gingrich and Lindsey Graham. Yet, the president has been opposed by others in his party, including Chris Krebs at the Department of Homeland Security, who announced that claims of election fraud “have been unsubstantiated or are technically incoherent” (Trump fired Krebs for that). 

Meanwhile, Brad Raffensperger, who says he’s never voted for a Democrat, is defending Georgia’s election results that show Biden won that state and has refused a suggestion by a fellow Republican to toss all mail-in ballots from counties with high rates of “questionable” signatures (for which he has received death threats). Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs has called for an end to Republicans threats and “perpetuating misinformation” about the election, and said that “continued intimidation tactics will not prevent me from performing the duties I swore an oath to do. Our democracy is tested constantly, it continues to prevail, and it will not falter under my watch.”

For promising new COVID-19 vaccines to be as effective as possible, they need to be affordable, if not free. That’s an issue since so many people have lost their insurance due to the COVID-19 economy.

The economy President-elect Biden will inherit, according to the Economic Policy Institute: 25.7 million were “hit” by the COVID-19 downturn; 7 million are employed but with cuts in pay and hours; 11.1 million are officially unemployed; 4.5 million dropped out of the labor force; and 3.1 million are unemployed but misclassified as employed and are not in the labor force.

The Smithsonian recently completed the National Native American Veterans Memorial at the National Museum of the American Indian. Congress commissioned the memorial to recognize the “extraordinary service” of Native men and women, dating back to the American Revolution.

What a dying democracy looks like: Hungarian far-right Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has overseen transformation of the media into pro-government propaganda, shrunken resources for civil society groups, strictly controlled COVID-19 data, threatened arrest for those who criticize the government online, is privatizing public universities and silencing the few remaining independent news sites, TIME magazine reports. Resources for COVID-19 go to loyalists, and that is causing more citizens to engage in resistance.

Dr. Thomas Lew, of Stanford University School of Medicine, pointed out in USA Today that both young and old who recover from COVID-19 can find themselves with long-term debilitating complications, including muscle wasting, asthma-like illnesses and PTSD — in some cases from being put in a medically-induced coma during treatment. As well, Dr. Lew stated that several hundred children have required hospitalization due to the virus since March.

A Pew Research study showed 79% in the U.S. think we should be prioritizing alternative energy sources, 80% support stronger restrictions on power plant emissions, and 71% favor stronger fuel-efficiency standards for cards and trucks.

The watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington reported that, since taking office, Trump has accumulated more than 3,400 conflicts of interest, averaging two per day. Of particular concern is $420 million in debt coming due soon, and how that might mean the president is open to influence to those who can help, like banks and those who spend money at his hotels, from which he has not divested during his presidency. The scenario poses a national security risk, CREW reports.

Blast from the past:  According to the charter that brought the first English settlers to James River, where they landed on Dec. 4, 1619, that day was to be commemorated as a day of Thanksgiving. But they celebrated it earlier the next year, just glad that corn — of all their crops — had thrived. They made merry for three days, even though half of the new arrivals had not survived the winter. President Abraham Lincoln established the fourth Thursday in November as the official Thanksgiving date in 1863. In 1939 President Franklin D. Roosevelt approved moving the date up a week, to accommodate a longer Christmas shopping season.

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